According to Headspace, the mindfulness and meditation app, introducing meditation into your daily routine has many benefits. Here we take a look at the top 5…
1. Stress – neuroscientists have found that meditation causes physical changes to the brain. Mindfulness meditation activates the ‘rest and digest’ part of the nervous system, helping with stress management.
2. Creativity – research has found meditation to promote ‘divergent thinking’ – a type of thinking that allows many new ideas to be generated.
3. Focus – neuroscientists have found that after just 11 hours of meditation, people had structural changes in the part of the brain involved in monitoring our focus and self-control.
4. Anxiety – research from 163 different studies suggests that mindfulness meditation practice had an overall positive effect on improving anxiety and stress.
5. Relationships – research with married couples found that meditation improved marital communication. Meditation also improves all day to day relationships; mindfulness allows you to become more comfortable with yourself which makes it easier for others to get on with you and makes you more accepting of others.
If you want to try meditating but don’t know where to start or are not sure if it’s for you, don’t worry, it’s easy! Start by clearing a short period of time where you can sit comfortably, relax and concentrate fully; this could be at the end of the day before going to bed, or set your alarm to wake up 10 minutes earlier in the morning.
Start off with a 10-minute meditation and as you get used to it and feel more comfortable, increase the time by 5 minutes gradually up to a maximum of about 30 minutes – find whatever works for you.
Begin with guided meditation. Apps like Headspace are great as they encourage you to meditate regularly, guide you through easy-to-follow exercises and teach you how you can meditate anywhere yourself; all you need is ten quiet minutes. If you’re not ready to invest then look up guided meditations on YouTube. And if you’re still unsure or prefer the human touch, there are many guided meditation classes available at yoga studios like Triyoga or I Am Yoga.
Once you get more accustomed to and confident at meditating, you can try it yourself by either concentrating on a visual point like a candle flame, or by focusing on a mantra or positive affirmation. The trick is to try to clear the mind of all unnecessary thoughts to enable you to reach the subconscious.
Remember, the mind is like the surface of a lake. When it is rippled with thoughts it is hard to see below the surface, but when we meditate we slow the chatter of the mind – calming us and enabling us to see deep below the surface to access our inner thoughts, feelings, focus and desires.